Empathy and the 20 Month Old
Petals is gaining self and social awareness at an amazing rate. She surprises me an surpasses my expectations of her daily.
On Sunday, I fell asleep on the couch, and she brought me a blanket. Lately, she’s been keeping tabs on her father and my plates during mealtimes, asking if we’re all done or if we need more to eat. Occasionally, she hugs us for no reason, kisses our boo-boos, and checks in with a “Happy, Jemmy-Daddy? Happy, Honey-Mommy?”
It was yesterday’s show of compassion, though, that really made me think about how big this little petal is getting.
We were in the grocery store – she’d just been chattering on about the monkey hanging over the banana section – and she turned to me and said, “Mommy, Ernie sad.”
“Ernie sad?” I asked, wondering what could have prompted this. I looked around, the Sesame Street character was no where to be found, sad or otherwise. Clearly, she’d been thinking about this for awhile.
“Yeah. Ernie sad. Ernie crying.”
“Why is Ernie crying?” I asked her.
“Ernie sad. No hab’ rub-a-ducky.”
“Mommy happy?” she asked.
“Yup. Are you happy?” I asked.
“Yeah. Ernie sad,” she reiterated.
I couldn’t figure out why she was saying this, so I ignored the comment and we went on about our shopping experience. We tried cheeses (she declared she liked and wanted “All the cheese!”) and we tasted mangoes and we made it through the checkout without her picking up too many Whitney Houston CDs. It wasn’t until we got home that she brought up Ernie again. Recently, she got an Ernie doll for Christmas. He sings songs about rubber duckies (but, oddly, not THE “Rubber Ducky” song) and laughs and seems, at least to me, generally happy. She picked up Ernie, ran over to her toy box, and began digging through the toy box for a rubber ducky for Ernie. She found the “angry duck” – which she was okay with, until her dad helped her find an actual squeaky ducky. This became Ernie’s Rub-a-Ducky. She even cleaned it off with a diaper wipe before giving it to him. (She also offered to clean off my cheeks with the same diaper wipe. I declined.)
It was then that I realized how developed her little brain was getting. Not only was she thinking about Ernie at the grocery store, and analyzing how he might feel about not having a thing he professes to love, but she continued thinking about it an hour later and resolved to fix the situation. I am awestruck and amazed by this. And really proud that I have a chance to witness her growth and development.